A Hornet's Nest in Gaza

Israel's brutal attempts to remove Palestinian militants and weapons from the Gaza Strip have set back hopes of an eventual unilateral withdrawal of Jewish settlements from the area.

The killing of 10 protesters by Israeli forces on Wednesday and the aggressive way they have demolished houses have renewed bitterness among Palestinians. And they probably provided a wake-up call for President Bush, who hopes Israel will be a better partner for peace.

While defending Israel's right to defend itself, the US did criticize these countermeasures on humanitarian grounds. And it allowed the UN Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the Israeli moves.

Israel does need to get rid of tunnels dug under the border between Egypt and Gaza, which are hidden in Palestinian houses. The tunnels have allowed a flow of arms or explosives that have been or could be used for suicide bombings against civilians. But peaceful ways must be used first, including possibly international intervention.

An Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which may still be possible, needn't be preceded by more violence. The only way for Israel to prevent the Palestinian militant group Hamas from controling Gaza after a pullout, as is likely, is to restart negotiations with the Palestinians. And the best route is to move ahead with the "road map" strategy laid out by the US.

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